Seasonal advice for winter

A British winter can be tough on animals, but there are plenty of things you can do to help. Even small actions can sometimes make a big difference.

Ways to help wildlife this winter

RSPCA wildlife expert Nicola White said:

We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable to the extremes the elements take. They just need a bit of a helping hand sometimes.

Frozen ponds

If you have a pondcheck it every day for ice as toxic gases can build up if it freezes over, and may kill fish or frogs hibernating at the bottom.

If the pond does freeze over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to melt a hole. Never tip boiling water onto it or break the ice with force, as this can harm fish.

Feeding birds

Birds may have difficulty finding normal food in winter. Find out more about feeding garden birds.


Badgers don't hibernate, but they do sleep through most of the severe weather, and have a tough time finding their favourite food of earthworms when the ground is frozen. Nibbles such as lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit would be welcomed.


Squirrels ‘cache’ (store) food when it’s in good supply, to eat when food is scarce. To help squirrels survive the coldest times of year offer nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, plus some chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach.

Keeping pets safe in cold weather


You may not feel like going for a walk in winter, but the exercise will keep your pet happy and healthy. You and your dog should wear reflective clothing to ensure you're both visible.

Keep your dogs away from ponds and lakes that are iced over. Thin ice may break under a dog's weight. Also watch out for your dogs' paws becoming impacted with snow, which can cause discomfort.

Horses and ponies

If you keep your horses and ponies outside they'll need have access to shelter, constant fresh water and some may need a rug. Read our winter care advice for horses.

Small outdoor pets

Keep an eye on outdoor pets. Provide extra bedding and be prepared to move them into a shed or unused garage for shelter. Read our rabbit winter care advice (PDF 428KB)

Don't house animals, including birds, in greenhouses due to the temperature changes. Caution must be taken if they are housed in conservatories – it must be a suitable temperature.

Seasonal celebrations


We love Christmas! Make sure your pets enjoy it as much as you do!


Fireworks can cause domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife to suffer as a result of the noise created by fireworks. Find out how you can help animals feel safe around fireworks.


Before having a bonfire, disturb piles of garden rubbish to check for animals like hedgehogs.

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